Cook County Raises minimum wage

Cook County board President addresses the suburban minimum wage increase at press conference
Cook County board President addresses the suburban minimum wage increase at press conference

Nearly two years ago Chicago aldermen voted to raise the minimum wage for businesses in the city to $13 by 2019 and implemented the first phase of the increase. On Wednesday County Board members  approved an ordinance that will increase the minimum hourly wage from $8.25 to $13 by 2020 for suburban Cook County The move  adds Cook County to the growing list of government bodies seeking to help lift people out of poverty by raising the wages of the lowest-paid workers.
 At a news conference following the vote, Board President Toni Preckwinkle said, “I recognize there will always be opposition to measures like this, but let’s get real. Who can live on $8.25 an hour?” at a news conference after the vote.
Ordinance’s sponsor, Commissioner Larry Suffredin said, “The commissioners’ vote affects about 200,000 workers in the suburbs and unincorporated areas. 

Opposition from business groups, which claimed businesses would struggle to afford a payroll increase on top of a higher county sales tax and record property tax increases in Chicago. Still the county vote passed.

Republican commissioners Timothy Schneider, Peter Silvestri, and Ed Moody voted against the minimum wage boost, and Gregg Goslin voted “present.”

Keeping in real, the Board President said, “Why would you relegate entire categories of worker to a wage structure that’s below the poverty line? At $13 an hour, nobody’s going to get rich.”

July 2017 will gift workers’ with their first pay increase, when the minimum wage will increase to $10 per hour from the current state minimum wage of $8.25. The following year the minimum hourly pay will an increase by $1   each  after through  2020, and will go up each year thereafter in step with the inflation rate or 2.5 percent, whichever is lower. The suburbs will be a year behind the city, which will reach $13 an hour by July 2019.

The minimum wage increase can’t come soon enough according to the people but the added payroll costs for employers will come on top of increased burdens for employee medical care and paid sick leave that have been tacked on federal and local laws in recent years. The reality is that pay increases could force businesses to lay off workers, leave Cook County, or go out of business altogether. 

It’s normal that small businesses owners express concerns about the  wage increases because it affects their business.

A company that has no workers means people aren’t working.

Suffredin, said “that increasing the pay of low-wage workers can stimulate a local economy, because those workers need to spend every cent they get.”

Suffredin continued, “They’re not going to put money into a 401(k) account, they’re not going to put this into an investment account. Every dollar they get is going to be used to support their family, so it’s going to come right back into the economy.”

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